Woman sitting at her desk while watching a video conference © 2012 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Skype, a free downloadable software application, is an instant messaging tool, an internet and video “phone”, as well as and a screen-sharing application, which allows you to view the screen of your peers and vice versa. Now technically it is not a Web 2.0 app because you have to download it but it is the tool that is most entrenched in the market. Using Skype you can connect to any other computer that is also running the application and talk as long as you want for free. Video chat is also included when you call computer-to-computer, or to a mobile device that enables video communication, such as Apple, Android, or BlackBerry phones. Skype also allows you to call landline telephones or mobile devices; however, while regular Skype communications are free, phone charges will accrue to a pre-paid account at a fee of2.4 cents/minute. International calls can also be made at this cost, regardless of region or distance.
An added bonus with Skype is the ability to make conference calls via voice or video, making it indispensable at conferences, during business meetings or lectures, and at round-table discussions To broaden these features for the everyday user, Skype also includes an instant messaging service, allowing you to text message a peer’s mobile device directly from your computer. As mentioned, many mobile devices now are Skype enabled, and you can use this application in the same ways as on your computer. This is especially useful in saving the money you might use for airtime, but you also easily can accumulate data charges to your mobile account from using Skype exclusively.
How can Skype help in Education?
- Set up a conference call with distance students
- Leave your Skype enabled for times when you want to work from home but remain available to your students
- Record your calls/interviews (another of Skype’s many features – just remember to get the interviewees permission before recording!) of important discussions and play it back to you students
As always, you can voice your ideas as a comment on this post at the top and keep an eye out here for more information on other tools like Skype that are full-fledged Web 2.0 (all online collaborative social media) tools, providing you with similar communication opportunities.